8 min read

The 4 Phases of Agile DevOps with Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As Development and IT Ops teams look to be more efficient, decreasing their time to market and increasing product support, DevOps has become the predominant industry solution. There are many resources that paint a picture of the ideal processes for Development and Operations working harmoniously together- but how do we actual get there? Where should we start? 

We need to begin with the end in mind. Our end goal is to deliver customers the software they need as fast as possible. The software industry is faster and more dynamic than the businesses of physical products. We need to get our customers features so they can give us crucial feedback while beating our competitors to market. The faster release development goes from concept to code, the quicker we can make customer happy. DevOps is a broad term with a variety of meanings, but at the end of the day, it seeks to increase the collaboration and automation between Development and Operations so we can get more frequent and higher quality releases into the hands of our customers.

When it comes to collaboration and automation, a focus on process and the use of the Atlassian suite are the best way to get there.

 The infinite loop of developing and supporting products that customers need and want with DevOps and the Atlassian Suite.

Image source: Atlassian 

Selling DevOps

The pain of hectic firefighting and troubleshooting make the need for DevOps obvious on the frontline, but getting alignment and investment at the organization level can be pretty difficult. Successful implementation is going to require buy-in and support from a variety of stakeholders and many levels. Before we can get our hands dirty, we need to convince everybody to spend the time and money to get these processes and tools in place.

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling:

One for the Book Club: Phoenix Project

Everybody has those business books that revolutionize the way they manage their work and companies. The Phoenix Project by Eugene Kim narratively addresses and exposes the gaps in processes between teams and points to a DevOps prescription to unblock cross-team work. We highly suggest recommending it to your teams, as it's a great way to get everybody on the same page and really see the value of DevOps.

Build a Business Case

At the end of the day, businesses exist to make money. To invest time and effort, we need to calculate the business return. The 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs does a brilliant job showing the financial reasons to adopt this shift.

The ROI of reducing excess work with DevOps according to 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs

Image Source: Puppet Labs

Phase 1: Go Agile

To get the real benefits of DevOps, it requires a shift in mentality and how we manage work through our teams. As we break down our requirements into smaller individual user stories, we can flow the work through the features through the process faster. By having the structure, ceremonies and processes in place to accommodate smaller pieces of work, we can get our customers the features they need and incorporate their feedback to iterate the next, improved release faster.

Here are some helpful ideas to help your teams go more Agile: 

  • Get Up, Stand Up | Simply doing stand-ups doesn't mean you're all the way agile, but it's a great way to get our teams into the mindset. Keep them short and reduce the headaches of status updates and emails. Fill everybody in on what you did yesterday, what you're doing today, and what pesky blockers are in your way. It's facilitates more agile and responsive team collaboration and support (the heart of DevOps).
  • Iterate Everything! | Speed up that Agile transformation, breaking down your waterfall projects into smaller sprints so you can always reprioritize and adjust as needed. Start with your software teams and spread out to your IT Ops projects and even marketing projects. Start in your own department: find the planning spreadsheets with those idealistic due dates, set up a backlog, and start sprinting!
  • Agile Boards | Once you're planning and executing in sprints, track and visualize it on a Jira Software board. Avoid those dreadful status meetings and send out the link to the board to keep everybody informed. Also, throw some wallboards up around the office so everybody can see your team killin' it. 

You'll know you're a lean, mean, agile machine when your software teams are cranking out stories in a steady cadence of sprints. Over time you'll see that velocity stabilize - then you can accelerate!

Phase 2: Get with Gitflow 

Git and Gitflow is a great way to help our dev teams increase velocity. As we're working with smaller stories, we need to be able to collaborate effectively with on our code base so we're not stepping all over each other. Version control systems of the past aren't going to be able to keep up with our blazing fast development teams. Bitbucket and the underlying technology of git are going to let our teams build user stories and merge them into the code base without wasting time messing with annoying versioning issues and costly code conflicts. 

  • Start with the Basics | Start by learning (allthethings) about how to effectively manage your branches and build in code quality with Atlassian's Git Tutorials and the Git Getting Started guides. Share them with your team so everybody's on the same page and knows the difference between a commit and a pull request.

  • Move to Git | If you haven't made the cutover to Git quite yet, get your team and managers onboard by sharing the benefits and how it will help ship more code. Once folks are convinced, learn why Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams and helps with pull requests, branching strategies, permissions and scalability. When it's time to actually move all that code over, see how we helped Splunk get git and 4 times the number code reviews completed. 
  • Start Branching | With the tools in place, it's time to start branching! Learn more about some common workflows to better handle branches here. Utilize those pull requests to build in code quality as you go. Eventually your Dev team will be humming with full Gitflow and your Ops teams will be in love with the clearly designated branches.

  • Automate, Mate | The marvelous integration between Bitbucket and Jira Software lets us automatically update the Jira issues based on what's going on in Bitbucket. Developers don't need to switch context anymore to keep the ticket up to date, and the whole team gets an accurate idea of what's actually going on. Check out our Automation Webinar to learn more about the powerful workflow triggers that make this possible.


The Gitflow branching strategy shown above utilizes different branches for specific roles like hotfixes and releases to help manage larger and more complex projects. 

 Image Source: Atlassian

Phase 3: CI/ CD

The next phase is how we define the crucial handoff between Dev and Ops. When our units of work and code changes are smaller, we're going to need to deploy more often to get those features to our customers. Before we ship it to the ops team and production, we need to ensure quality as our individual features come together. This is where good Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment practices along with Atlassian's Bamboo are vital to successfully shipping our product. Catching bugs and issues before they go to production is going to help both the Dev and Ops teams sleep better at night.

  • Learn about Bamboo | For on-prem Atlassian users, Atlassian's Bamboo is the CI/CD solution that allows professional teams to build their CI/CD pipeline. You may be using Jenkins or other open source teams, however the deep integration points and improved build management make it the right choice for professional teams.
  • Integrate with Jira | Once you have Bamboo up and running, leverage the integration between Bamboo and Jira Software.
  • Bitbucket Pipelines | If you're an Atlassian cloud user, Bitbucket Pipelines is a new, powerful solution in Beta that lets developers build, test and deploy directly from Bitbucket. Developers have the power as they can define the environment and tests for their specific branch with YAML file style configuration.
  • Dockerize Everything! | Docker and containerization is the latest craze sweeping the IT world as teams look to deploy applications to any environment faster and easier. Check out our Docker +Atlassian webinar to learn more about how. As partners with Docker, we love to helping teams harness this cutting-edge technology.
  • Automate Testing | Automating testing with tools like Charlotte, QA Symphony, and Zephyr (which integrate with Bamboo and Jira) gives your development team an even more agile edge. Get efficent, high-fidelity testing to expedite the finding and squashing of bugs to ensure your next iteration is the best version.

Phase 4: Harmonize with Support

Once the story is shipped, the process does not end. Now it's time to keep the product working and collect that vital feedback we need.

  • Check out our webinar, DevOps with the Atlassian Suite, for a full picture of how development and operations are going to work in harmony.
  • Set up a product feedback service desk in Jira to really hear your customers and integrate directly with development teams.
  • Learn how to set up your Service Desk teams for success with our ITSM webinar.


By implementing the right DevOps tools and processes, you'll see the faster shipping of higher quality and better supported releases. As your Development and Ops teams continue to execute these lock-step processes, you get more agile by good practice. Take the steps to start implementing DevOps today by contacting us to get up and sprinting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation bitbucket bugs continuous-delivery bamboo branching devops docker distributed-version-control-system process-consulting qa-symphony sdlc selenium software sprint testing version-control-system workflows tracking continuous-integration cloud development integration it operations release-management marketplace-apps
4 min read

Jira 5's Social Perks

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 2, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Jira 5 is a brilliant platform for collaboration, connecting the people, activity and applications you work with every day.

Software development involves your entire organization, and good software becomes great when you bring everyone into your development process. Atlassian Jira 5′s here, connecting the dots between the development process and the rest of your business.

Your Platform for Collaboration

Software’s the center of much of our world today: it’s in your car, on the phone in your pocket, and it shapes how you work with teams, projects, and organizations.

Jira sits at the center of your software development, from initial feature planning and assigning work, to tracking development work and testing, to managing project status and the final release. Jira 5 takes collaboration to new levels by connecting people, activity, and applications around software development.

People & Teams

Jira 5 has two powerful new ways to bring people into the conversation: ‘@mentions’ and sharing.

While Jira’s email notifications are great for keeping everyone up-to-date with the issues they’re working on, sometimes you need to bring others into the conversation who might not be actively participating in an issue already.

With Jira 5, simply @mention any user in a comment or description and they’ll receive an email indicating they have been mentioned. Autocomplete lets you select usernames on the fly and Jira makes it easy to track who is involved in the comment stream.

The Share button lets you quickly send out a broadcast-style ‘FYI’ to people and teams you are working with.

Similar to sharing in Confluence 4, you can now share issues and saved searches by simply adding a user’s name or email address and typing a quick note with some details.

Activity & Applications

With new improvements to activity streams and issue linking, Jira 5 is the central place to stay up-to-date with what’s happening on your projects.

Remote issue links allow you to connect Jira issues to any website URL or application. This is great for connecting Jira issues to pages in Confluence or issues in other instances of Jira. External applications can also link to Jira issues directly to any Jira issue using the new Jira REST API.

Activity streams now show remote activity as well. In addition to real-time updates from Jira, all other Atlassian products connected via Application Links will automatically show up in your feeds. This includes changes to Confluence pages, Bamboo build status, and source activity from FishEye, and more.

Remote applications and plugins can also add events their own to Jira activity streams.

Connecting the Dots

Atlassian tools aren’t the only applications you use alongside Jira… so Atlassian’s excited to share some killer integrations to connect the tools and teams you work with every day. Here are a few examples of how development teams are connecting with the teams around them.

Development to QA

QA teams spend their time writing tests, planning execution cycles, running manual tests, kicking off automation scripts, and providing status updates in a test management tool like Zephyr. Developers spend time in Jira, managing and tracking their own daily work, or planning work with their team.

Jira 5 Activity Streams bridge the gap between tools like these, providing real-time updates between Zephyr and Jira whenever major activity happens, such as:

  • beginning testing on a particular project or version/sprint/iteration
  • a particular test execution cycle starting
  • a brand new bug being filed or modified

Developers and anyone working in Jira get a running feed on testing activities in Zephyr, as they occur, without having to reach out to those team members to chase up status updates.

Development to Product Management

Confluence is a great tool for product managers to work on unstructured content, like requirements or specification docs. These are often directly related to one or more issues in Jira.

With Jira 5, it is easy to create a two-way link between Jira issues and Confluence pages. Simply paste the URL to an issue into any Confluence page and the Jira issue will automatically be updated with a link that page.

Development to Customer Support

It doesn’t stop with Confluence. Remote issue links in Jira 5 connects Jira issues to other items the teams you work with use:

  • a document in Box
  • a customer record from Salesforce
  • a support ticket in Zendesk
  • a discussion topic from Get Satisfaction
  • and more..

Your Platform for Integration

Jira 5 makes it easier for everyone to consume and develop plugins with two huge announcements around APIs: a stable Java API and a brand new REST API.

The stable Java API means every Jira customer can rest assured that all Jira 5.0 compatible plugins will be forwards compatible with Jira 5.x releases. Atlassian wants the best possible experience for all Jira users, so Atlassian is committed to investing in this set of stable APIs to support developers integrating with our tools. You won’t need to wait on a plugin when the next Jira 5.x release comes out – you can upgrade right away, knowing all plugins built using this new stable API will be forwards compatible!

The Jira 5 REST API gives you a new way to work with issues remotely – including the ability to search, create and link issues, and add remote events into the Jira activity stream.

Get Connected with Jira 5

Jira 5 integrates with the tools developers and other teams use to help software development stay connected to the rest of the organization. Sharing and mentions make it easy to bring others into the conversation. Remote issue links keep dynamic, relevant information in a central place. Activity streams keep you updated on what’s happening in and outside of Jira in real-time.

Jira 5 is the center of software development, connecting people, activity and applications you work with every day, helping you make great software.

Topics: jira atlassian blog facebook management software sprint stream twitter zephyr collaboration development organization atlassian-products
4 min read

Atlassian Releases Jira 5

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 22, 2012 11:00:00 AM

So you’ve probably heard already – Atlassian released Jira 5 today, loaded with tons of new stuff. Here’s Atlassian’s press release, which gives a cumulative primer:

“SAN FRANCISCO & SYDNEY, February 22, 2012—Atlassian, the leading provider of collaboration software for product teams, today launched Jira 5, the latest release of its flagship product. Available through both an OnDemand and on-site offering, Jira 5 offers a social product development platform that connects people, applications and activity to accelerate the software development process. New social features such as mentions, sharing and live activity streams immediately bring users into real-time discussions.

Jira 5′s platform – including an expanded plugin API and improved REST APIs –allows third-party software vendors to easily integrate with Jira and create products that are seamlessly compatible with future Jira releases, saving companies time and money. More than 30 integration partners, including Box, Gliffy, New Relic, Zephyr, Zendesk, Salesforce.com, Tempo and GetSatisfaction are launching Jira 5 compatible third-party products. More than 100 commercial and free plugins are also available with today’s launch.

“Jira 5 continues to push the software development process forward, this time through new social capabilities that improve real-time communication and better connect developers, technical teams, business users and customers – basically everyone building software products together,” said Jay Simons, president of Atlassian. “Jira 5′s enhanced integration platform also helps connect information from other enterprise products – a sales ticket from Salesforce.com, or a customer service request from Zendesk – directly to the Jira issue tracking and workflow engine, putting more information directly into the hands of product teams.”

Jira is used by more than 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Jira sits at the center of the software development process, connecting teams with development tasks such as bug tracking, feature development, agile planning, and activity monitoring.

Sharing Features Connect Developers, Teams and Data in Real Time

“Before Jira, our developers lost so much time reproducing the wheel through a tedious process of figuring out what had been done and who’d already been involved,” said Alex Kirmse, head of mobile development for Zappos.

Jira 5’s new sharing and mention features makes it easy to pull team members or co-workers into the conversation. Live activity streams update team members on all related activities and information, much like Facebook and Twitter activity streams.

“The effectiveness of our team’s communications has increased with direct commenting to individuals and live activity streams,” said Max Pool, Founder of Sycorr, a mobile banking company. “The integration platform for Jira 5 is the best yet. REST APIs improve our ability to integrate across platforms, while improvements to Jira’s powerful search engine (JQL) – such as historic change support – allow us to get even more creative in how we use the system and get the data we want from it.”

Building Businesses on the Jira 5 Platform

Jira 5’s new stable plugin API and improved REST APIs make it easy for integration partners and other plugin developers to build integrated software products. More than a quarter of Jira’s 400 plugins and more than 15 remote SaaS integrations are launching with Jira 5 compatibility. Plugins built using the Jira 5 stable plugin API will be compatible with future upgrades to Jira.

“We feel confident in betting our business on Jira’s success,” explains Samir Shah, CEO of Zephyr. “Jira 5′s new API connects development to QA, and gives our test case management tools more adoption because users know they can upgrade to future releases without having to wait on add-on upgrades.”

“Jira 5 is another quantum leap by Atlassian in their mission to creatively enable large scale collaboration at the nexus of engineering and support,” said Adrian McDermott, vice president of engineering and product management at Zendesk. “This integration redefines how support and engineering teams can work together to enrich customer satisfaction.”

Availability

Starting today, Atlassian is offering a free 30-day trial of Jira 5. Jira can be purchased for on-site download for just $10 for 10 users, or OnDemand starting at $10/month for 10 users.

New Jira Enterprise Offering

To ensure the success of large deployments, Atlassian is introducing a new Jira Enterprise offering with additional support, training and engagement. Customers with 500 or more Jira users can now receive 24X7 phone support, end-user training, and administrator certification, among other enhanced services. For more information, go to http://www.atlassian.com/enterprise.

Additional Resources

About Atlassian

Atlassian products help innovators everywhere plan, build and launch great software. More than 18,000 large and small organizations – including Citigroup, eBay, Netflix and Nike – use Atlassian’s issue tracking, collaboration and software-development products to work smarter and deliver quality results on time. Learn more at http://atlassian.com.”

Topics: jira atlassian news blog connect enterprise facebook salesforce software stream twitter zendesk zephyr saas tempo collaboration developers download gliffy integration jql marketplace-apps
2 min read

Team Calendars 1.6 Released - Share Your Custom Dates

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 28, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian’s Team Calendars development team has been working hard to make Team Calendars the glue between Jira and Confluence. They’re excited to announce that their next major release - Team Calendars 1.6 - is available for download now!

Since Team Calendars 1.0, you’ve been able to map default date fields in Jira – issue and version due dates – on a Jira Calendar for everyone to see in Confluence. This was really helpful for Product and Project Managers to visualize the schedule of a project. However, folks have since told Atlassian that these are not the only dates important to teams. Atlassian listened, and with the release of Team Calendars 1.6, they’ve extended the Jira Calendar type to support your custom date fields in Jira.

Display Custom Date Fields from Jira on Calendars in Confluence

If you have custom date fields for your Jira Projects – ‘QA Due Date’, ‘Scheduled Deployment Date’, etc – you can now map them on a Jira Calendar inside of Confluence.  It’s quick and easy to set up from wither the the ‘Create Jira Calendar’ and ‘Edit Jira Calendar’ dialogs.

The custom dates fields you select for any given particular Jira Project will show in month, week, and list views. When you combine your Jira and People Calendars you’ve got a solution that gives your team a better understanding of a project’s progress and the ability to identify potential resourcing issues that may impact its delivery.

How can this feature help you?

If your team is using Jira for project tracking or change management, check out this post to learn how Team Calendars 1.6 can help your team deliver projects on time, all the time, and keep track of when changes were made to your internal systems.

Losing track of all these new features?

We don’t blame you! Here’s a quick review of what Atlassian’s been up to, in case you missed it.:

Enjoy and keep your eyes open for a little present from Atlassian’s Team Calendars Development Team just before Christmas.

Topics: jira atlassian blog calendars confluence project release software development atlassian-products bespoke
4 min read

Hey Atlassian Users: Easy Release Management with Bamboo 3.2!

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 28, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Bamboo 3.2 Now Available

Automate your complete release process down to one-click, add manual Stages to your deployment process, and re-run failed Stages with the newest version of Atlassian’s continuous integration server, Bamboo 3.2.

What’s New in Bamboo 3.2

1. Release Management
The dream scenario with any release process is to automate all of your release activities down to the click of a single button. Bamboo 3.2 and the new Release Management plugin for the Jira bug tracker aims to do just that – one-click release management.

  • Prevent mistakes from being made as part of a long, manual release process
  • Remove the barrier to release
  • Speed up the release – the more often you do it, the faster you will make it
  • Manage all your releases from a centralized and controlled location
  • Use the same streamlined, automated process every time you release

Release in Jira, build in Bamboo! Create a release pipeline in Bamboo to automate your release process: use Stages, Jobs and Tasks to build, run tests, generate release artifacts, publish and deploy your release. Then initiate your release activity or event with one-click directly from Jira when you’re ready.

Run a release build in Bamboo from the Jira Versions tab without leaving Jira. 

When releasing a version in Jira you will have the option to run Bamboo builds.

If the build is successful the version will be released in Jira.

Automate the steps that traditionally are performed to release an application:

  • Building and testing
  • Tag the releases, assign a version
  • Create and populate the release branch
  • Deploy the release to a a deployment server or production environment
  • Release the new version in Jira, move the unresolved issues to the next release
  • Release or activate the new version in Production

Bamboo ships with a number of Tasks to build and deploy including Tasks to tag or branch a repository.

For Jira-Bamboo users the latest release of the Bamboo-Jira plugin is now compatible with Jira 4.3 and provides this release management functionality.

2. Manual Stages
Manual Stages allow you to interrupt/halt/suspend automatic build execution at a specific Stage in the build plan. For Plan execution to continue a user must manually trigger the Stage.

  • The default behavior of any Build Plan in Bamboo is to go to the next Stage upon successful completion of the current stage. Depending on your needs you may need to introduce a manual checkpoint into your build plan before going on to the next Stage:
  • Use a manual stage for deployment to give your QA team a chance to perform a few manual tests before your software goes into production
  • In a release pipeline, you may want to separate your ‘publish’ step from your ‘install’ step and install only after backups or clean shutdowns have been confirmed
  • Introduce a ‘quality’ gate, between build and deploy stages, to allow members of your team to approve and promote a particular build
  • Any other step that’s difficult to automate or that requires special attention

 

 

3. Re-run Failed Stages
It’s not always the code that is broken. Infrastructure problems and other issues can cause a Job, and therefore the Plan, to fail. In these scenarios Bamboo can re-run failed Jobs without having to re-run the entire Plan once you’ve resolved the problems. This can save heaps of time and build resources.

 

4. Filter Bamboo Dashboard by Labels
Bamboo now allows you to label your build Plans. The Bamboo Dashboard can be filtered to only show plans with labels that you are interested in. Filter out the noise on your Bamboo Dashboard.

Hint: When viewing a Plan use the keyboard shortcut “l” to bring up the label dialog for the Plan. When viewing the Bamboo Dashboard press “l” to filter the dashboard by label.

And More…

  • Improved Jira integration – delegate user management to Jira, easier application linking
  • EC2 improvements

This release has over 50 new features and improvements implemented. Check out the full release notes for more details.

Also make sure to check out the new agile testing tool for Jira, Atlassian Bonfire.

Ready to download?

Download Bamboo 3.2 now to get started with a 30-day FREE trial or upgrade your current instance.

Topics: jira atlassian blog automation bamboo confluence dashboard management plan process release software deployment environment integration marketplace-apps
2 min read

Jira + ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 24, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian Jira's a remarkably flexible tool. For most who hear “Jira,” things like issue tracking, project management, and software development come to mind. Very rarely do people think of ITIL in relation to Jira. But then again, many don’t know what ITIL is.

If you’re a developer or in IT and don’t know what ITIL is, you should. It’s a set of processes for managing lifecycles with relationships to one another. It’s the most widely-accepted approach to IT service management in the world – a set of best practices drawn from public and private sectors around the world. ITIL doesn’t just apply to IT service management (ITSM), though – it’s a reliable methodology for managing any type of complex technological process.

Jira’s an Atlassian tool that’s phenomenal at lifecycle management (workflows, custom fields, etc). It’s designed to be issue-centric, built around managing issues or bugs that pop up within a product or service’s lifecycle. This functionality extends far and wide when you expand how you define an “issue.” On the surface, an issue is more like a problem – but considering an issue’s attributes, it can easily qualify as a task or milestone. With that in mind, Jira can facilitate far more than simple issue tracking. It can support complex process lifecycles.

Every process is a web of highly dependent relationships between regular and conditional tasks – including ITIL processes like Incident Management and Problem Management. The huge breakthrough here is making Jira projects and workflows represent (and support) ITIL processes. Let’s take an incident for example. An incident goes through several states:

(1) detection and recording
(2) classification and initial support
(3) investigation and diagnosis
(4) incident closure

A good Incident Management process within a good technology helps reduce meantime to recovery – i.e. recover from an incident. We all know how well Jira facilitates transitions and workflow. Let’s take it a step further…in ITIL-based Incident Management, we are supposed to designate incident ownership, actively monitor, track and communicate. BINGO! This what Jira does.

Let’s take this another step further. Problem Management is a process used to identify root cause to reduce the number of incidents – thereby increasing the meantime between failures. Using Jira, we can manage root cause analysis and associate the individual incidents (manifestations) back to the Problem Management record we’re analyzing. This ability to link records and collaborate makes Jira a great Problem Management solution. Add Confluence to the mix and the effectiveness is improved further.

Going another step further – having ITIL-based ITSM processes running in Jira alongside your organizations SDLC further helps IT align its capabilities to deliver the highest, best quality software and service delivery.

We’ve helped clients implement Jira to manage Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Asset Management, Software Development, Testing… we love the Altassian products and so do our clients.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management confluence issues management problem process reliability sdlc services software workflows tracking change development incident-management it itil itsm lifecycle methodology bespoke
1 min read

SmartGrid: The Future of Electric Power

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 14, 2011 11:00:00 AM

SmartGrid technology is the effective future of the electric power industry. Just consider the numbers: the US SmartGrid market is expected to double in size between 2009 and 2014, from $21.4 billion to $42.8 billion, with global SmartGrid spending exceeding $200 billion in 2015. With significant aid from federal stimulus funding, SmartGrid development and implementation has already begun across the US. Experts expect SmartGrid technology to become the electric industry standard within 20 years.

You’re probably familiar with what SmartGrids can do. If you’re not, think improved energy consumption information + customer empowerment. SmartGrids leverage automated power systems that monitor and control grid activities, ensuring a constant two-way flow of electricity and information between plants, consumers, and points in between. That information will originate from millions of data points scattered among system devices, enabling utilities to adapt electricity delivery to usage patterns. Demand-response software will enable utilities and consumers to turn high-demand appliances on and off during peak demand periods, improving efficiency. Technology can allow consumers to monitor their home’s energy consumption at the appliance-level (dishwasher, refrigerator, etc), and adjust their thermostats and other power-consuming devices via computers and mobile phones. Basically, SmartGrids will allow consumers and grid operators to understand what’s going on demand-side and make grid management more intelligent.

Information technology (IT) is the driver of SmartGrid technology. Custom software, data management, systems integration, and data security are critical to SmartGrid operations. We bring these solutions to utilities en route to SmartGrid deployment. If you’re making the move, talk to us. We prepare companies for the switch.

Topics: blog management software technology security smartgrid utilities data deployment information integration it operations bespoke
3 min read

Don't Let Your Software Dictate Its Own Life

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 11, 2011 11:00:00 AM

It’s natural for us to neglect maintenance. It works like this:

  • You have a problem that needs to be fixed.
  • You neglect the need for awhile because it’s not “bad enough” for you to spend money on it.
  • The problem worsens; the need intensifies. Extra work is done to keep things running.
  • The need is prioritized. But the solution is too expensive.
  • The problem worsens even more. Tons of extra work is done to keep things running.
  • The money spent on temporary solutions nears the total cost of a solution.
  • You purchase a solution to the problem.

Now, after all that trouble, money, and wasted time, the last thing we want to do when we procure a solution is devote work to maintaining it. It’s true with any solution. When you buy a new car, you don’t want to deal with changing brake pads during your first month of ownership. When you fix a problem, you are physically and emotionally pre-disposed to exalt the solution as ultimate redemption and not think about the problem. The problem is fixed. There are no more problems.

But you can’t do this with software, even though every ounce of yourself inclines you to. Even if your business spends $1 million implementing a new do-it-all software solution. No matter how much you paid, the cost doesn’t mean your maintenance / future planning responsibilities don’t have to exist. If you don’t actively ensure your software is:

  • integrating effectively with your business processes,
  • integrating effectively with other software / systems,
  • adapting to future needs,
  • responsibly maintained,
  • used properly by employees,
  • compliant with industry trends and best practices,
  • and kept cost-effective,

…you effectively (and unintentionally) make your software fail. Indeed, in most cases, new software that becomes obsolete to the business within a year of its implementation is often the result of:

  • Misuse / lack of proper training. Employees who lack a knowledge of what the software can do, how it works, and how it improves their work, they won’t be able to see the advantage of using it – and more importantly, they won’t be able to use it right. Document management software, for example, can quickly become messy and disorganized if employees don’t understand how it’s supposed to be used. That’s a major setback to progress – and could create a problem worse than the original one.
  • Poor adoption rates / internal advocacy. Closely relating to misuse, if the solution isn’t “marketed” internally, employee buy-in could flounder. Preparing employees for a solution is a key part of the implementation process. Few people love change, and businesses can’t expect employees to react well if change is spontaneously legislated from their point of view.
  • Lack of integration with business processes. If a software solution doesn’t integrate with business processes, it doesn’t improve an organization. Period. And the more business processes it integrates with, the more valuable it becomes. Great software improves process, and improved process makes the business more profitable by trimming costs.
  • Lack of integration with other software / systems. A single software rarely solves every business problem. Multiple softwares are usually leveraged for different purposes. Since business processes throughout an organization impact one another much like those of a living organism, processes are interdependent. They interact with one another across departmental lines. Process management software will therefore interact with other systems – making integration a must for success.
  • Lack of compliance with industry trends and best practices. Keeping up with software trends is crucial in this day and age. While it’s costly, it keeps your company marketable and ensures access to support services. Adopting a software that was last updated in 2002, for example, will render you irrelevant to the times, which speaks about your organization. Best practices such as ITIL are derived from industry-leading successes. They pave paths of success for others to follow. Staying on the cutting edge and doing it right are required to remain healthy and progressive. Not doing so can leave you in the dust.

Don’t let your software dictate its own life. Planning is as important the day after “go live” as it is the day before. A software that’s prepared for, well-maintained, well-integrated, and supported with forward-thinking will yield the highest long-term ROI to the business.

Topics: blog bpm business management practices process software tips tricks company compliance cost-effective itil organization
1 min read

Rule.fm: A Preliminary Assessment

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Rule.fm is one of the latest start-up business productivity suites to appear on the map. “Making productivity accessible, affordable, reliable, and fun,” Rule.fm’s capabilities include people, project, document, and time management. More are on the way.

Before we assess Rule.fm, let’s look at business productivity suites in the bigger picture. Every business – or at least every business that’s reading this – probably has a software platform upon which they run their business. Every business is looking for the easiest, simplest, cheapest software to manage it. The key here is integration. While older, more established IT environments may require costly integration between existing systems (Sales vs. HR), companies small enough to use Rule.fm could benefit greatly since it integrates high-level business processes and information. The more a business becomes technologically segmented, the harder it is to manage business information collectively.

A winning software is therefore one that can benefit every part of an organization – putting everyone on the same playing field, but also catering to unique departmental needs. Rule.fm seems to have this in mind. The folks who started Rule.fm emigrated from 37 Signals, which powers Basecamp, Highrise, Campfire, and Backpack – so it’s no surprise they’re developing an application that covers each of the 37 Signals niches…and more.

Rule.fm recently began accepting requests for invites. Their full product launch should occur in the next few months. The capabilities set will be small at first – but Rule.fm will eventually offer a complete sales cycle management tool, ticket requests, Google Docs integration, Google Calendar/iCal integration, a mobile browser, wikis, and more – as seen in their tour.

Rule.fm’s capabilities reflect business productivity software’s need for integration and scalability. When someone says “scalable software” in business, they usually end up discussing Microsoft SharePoint in some capacity – and while Rule.fm doesn’t appear to be scalable or flexible in terms of custom framework development, as SharePoint is, its intuitive interface and capabilities could be valuable to the business looking for a subscription-based solution. It seems like Rule.fm will offer businesses an out-of-the-box solution that doesn’t require additional out-of-the-box solutions.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency enterprise management process project software collaboration
1 min read

Collaborative Software in Simple English

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 11, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Processes are what make or break businesses. Process management is therefore a very big deal. In this blog, we’ll explain the very basic nature of collaborative software and how it can aid in process management—specifically task management.

Each process, of course, is made up of tasks that add value to inputs and ultimately impact the output (the product). As we’ve always said: if you put garbage into a process, you can expect to get garbage out of it. Garbage in, garbage out. If you put quality in up front…you get the point.

Keeping track of tasks is very much important. Whose task is this? Which tasks should I be working on? Too often process breakdowns occur when these questions come up and there’s not a one-stop-shop for clarity. That’s why collaboration software is so important.

Skipping irrelevant attributes, collaboration software can help employees communicate about a project or process almost instantly. The key advantage? Employees can collaborate without having to be in the same place. Using an integrated interface of email, chat, and file sharing, collaboration software consolidates communication into a single location for clarity and efficiency—accessible online. That’s an increase to business value.

Without using collaboration software, information gets scattered into different locations: a chat thread, an email conversation, a Post-It note. Process status updates are also scattered among these mediums, and truly knowing what the status is on an iteration of a process is significantly more time-consuming.

Collaborative software provides an instantly accessible home for project to-do lists. A key detail: customization. You can assign tasks to specific people, and easily rig the software up to notify an employee if they’re selected for a task. You can also group tasks according to projects and processes, and give selective access to employees. If you’re assigned a task, you can update the progress of your task so anyone checking the task list will be able to know where you are—keeping everyone on the same page. That is the basic idea of collaborative software.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency enterprise google management process software value wave collaboration

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